Defining the Rape Kit Backlog

The rape kit backlog comprises two distinct but related problems. The first exists in police evidence storage facilities, where rape kits are booked into evidence, but a detective and/or prosecutor does not request DNA analysis. The second backlog exists in crime lab facilities, where rape kits are submitted for testing, but are awaiting DNA analysis and have not been tested in a timely manner.

We believe every rape kit booked into evidence and connected to a reported sexual assault should be submitted to a crime lab for testing. Crime labs must commit to testing rape kit evidence in a timely manner.

As to the untested rape kits in police storage facilities, the Joyful Heart Foundation defines a backlogged kit as one that has not been submitted to an accredited public or private crime lab for testing within 10 days of being booked into evidence.

As to the untested rape kits at crime lab facilities, the Joyful Heart Foundation defines a backlogged kit as one that has not been tested within 30 days of receipt by the crime lab.

Experts in the federal government have estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of untested kits in police and crime lab storage facilities throughout the country.

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